Journal of European Public Policy vol:16 issue:5 pages:719-737
Starting from the principal-agent theory, this article analyses the conditions under which an EU negotiator enjoys a particular degree of discretion vis-à-vis the member states during international environmental negotiations. A qualitative comparative analysis of eight EU decision-making processes with regard to international negotiations leading to a multilateral environmental agreement indicates that the compellingness of the international negotiations explains the occurrence of discretion. However, the international compellingness does not provide explanatory power to understand the particular degree of discretion. To understand when an EU negotiator enjoys a high degree of discretion, variables such as preference distributions, information asymmetries and institutional density need to be taken into account.